**Posted by Phineas
Boy, those mysterious computer crashes afflicting the IRS are something, eh? First it was just the computer of Lois Lerner, a central figure in the scandal involving IRS harassment of conservative groups. Potentially crucial emails gone, trashed, wiped out so thoroughly that even the resources of the IRS couldn’t recover them. (Try that excuse at your next audit.) Oops! No backups, either! “Gee, Mr. Investigating Congressman and lawyers representing the people we harassed, we’re sorry. But, don’t worry! There’s not a smidgen of corruption here. Trust us.”
And now, we learn, it wasn’t just Lerner’s computer that crashed, but the PCs of six more figures close to the heart of the scandal. What a coincidence:
The IRS recently informed Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany that computer crashes resulted in additional lost e-mails, including from Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal.
The revelation about Lerner’s e-mails rekindled the targeting scandal and today’s news has further inflamed Republicans. Camp and Boustany are now demanding a special prosecutor to investigate “every angle” of the events that led to Lois Lerner’s revelation in May 2013 that the agency had used inappropriate criteria to review the applications for tax exemption.
If Lerner is the central figure in the scandal — Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa said Monday evening he believes she was the senior-most official involved — Flax may be an important auxiliary figure. E-mails produced in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the group Judicial Watch show Flax giving the green light to Lerner’s request to meet with Department of Justice officials to explore the possibility of criminally prosecuting nonprofit groups — at the suggestion of Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse — for engaging in political activity after declaring on their application for nonprofit status that they had no plans to do so.
What kind of computers are these clowns using? 386s running Windows 3??
Nah, you can bet they’re using fairly recent hardware and software, which mean those emails exist. Not only are they required to maintain copies by statute, but, as a former IRS IT tech put it to PJMedia’s Brian Preston:
He says that the IRS uses Microsoft Outlook/Exchange systems, which are backed up using Symantec NetBackup.
He also says that “the IRS is the cash cow of the federal government. When they ask for funding for anything it was granted without discussion.”
In the case of the prime contract and record retention, “The IRS IT projects were fully funded and never lacked for resources. To state ‘Backup tapes were reused after some short period’ is a complete joke. The IRS had thousands and thousands of tapes and ‘Virtual Tape Libraries’ (VTL or non-tape backups based on hard drive storage technologies). There was never a reason to reuse tapes.”
The former IRS IT worker adds that in his time on the prime contract, “I have worked for many federal agencies and the IRS had some of the best people.”
“This reason is why I scoff at the story being put out. Those folks would not have had such a short retention period for email unless they had it in writing from the highest levels. It would have made the local IT water cooler gossip if the IRS had screwed up and lost tons of email by accident.”
It is absolutely un-credible that these emails happened to all get irretrievably destroyed in some grand cosmic accident. The question is, then, what is in them that makes it worth telling such baldfaced lies to the nation and risking civil or criminal liability?
A House select investigating committee may be the only way we ever get the answer.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)